A new study by researchers at Columbia University has shown that video calls can reduce the production of creative ideas compared to face-to-face meetings.

According to the authors of the study, Melanie Brucks and Jonathan Levay, the results indicate that visual focus narrows when people use a computer, which in turn reduces their cognitive focus.

The study also showed that face-to-face pairs produced more ideas and more creative ideas than those who met virtually.

To conduct the study, the authors randomly paired 1,500 people, either by video call or in person, and asked them to develop new ideas, select one of the ideas and submit it as a future product innovation.

“Specifically, using eye-gaze and recall measures, as well as latent semantic analysis, we demonstrate that videoconferencing hampers idea generation because it focuses communicators on a screen, which prompts a narrower cognitive focus. Virtual interaction comes with a cognitive cost for creative idea generation. Our results indicate that in these hybrid setups, it might make sense to prioritize creative idea generation during in-person meetings,” says the study.

The sources for this piece include an article in ZDNet.